Experience is not what happens to you; It is what you do with what happens to you.~ Aldous Huxley
Experience is not what happens to you; It is what you do with what happens to you.~ Aldous Huxley
I’m struck by how, except when you’re young, you really need to prioritize in life, figuring out in what order you should divide up your time and energy. If you don’t get that sort of system set by a certain age, you’ll lack focus and your life will be out of balance.~ Haruki Murakami
The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.~ Jessica Hische
It’s time to accept that I’m definitely in part two of my life. I’m done pretending that living to 100 is realistic. (Although, I’m open to being surprised.)
Now on my Artist’s Journey I barely drive to the grocery store.~ Steven Pressfield from, https://stevenpressfield.com/2023/03/after-the-wilderness/
The thought rattling around in my head is: What are the differences between parts one and two? And I think the central thematic difference is activity versus passivity. In part one the hero expended tremendous effort bashing their way towards the objective. In part two the hero has realized it’s time to play a supporting role.
I would like to spend the rest of my days in a place so silent—and working at a pace so slow—that I would be able to hear myself living.~ Elizabeth Gilbert
I’m prone to thinking I should be helping more.
If you’re prone to thinking you should be helping more, that’s probably a sign that you could afford to direct more energy to your idiosyncratic ambitions and enthusiasms. As the Buddhist teacher Susan Piver observes, it’s radical, at least for some of us, to ask how we’d enjoy spending an hour or day of discretionary time. And the irony is that you don’t actually serve anyone else by suppressing your true passions anyway. More often than not, by doing your thing – as opposed to what you think you ought to be doing – you kindle a fire that helps keep the rest of us warm.~ Oliver Burkeman from, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/sep/04/oliver-burkemans-last-column-the-eight-secrets-to-a-fairly-fulfilled-life
I was thinking, “oh look, a fire metaphor…” and then, with growing uncertainty, “…or, is that a fire simile?” At which point I spun off relearning the difference between metaphor and simile for the gajillionth time.
I am certain however, that I do not need to direct more of my energy into my idiosyncrasies. No, what I need to do is to learn how to be comfortable letting things remain unexplored. I need to think, “That’s interesting.” And then let it go past.
[H]ad I my life to arrange over again, I would do again as I have done. Only those who have lived at the full stretch seven days a week for a long time can appreciate the full beauty of a regular recurring idleness. Moreover, I am ageing. And it is a question of age. In cases of a bounding youth and exceptional energy and desire for effort I should say unhesitatingly: Keep going, day in, day out.~ Arnold Bennett
The most important preliminary to the task of arranging one’s life so that one may live fully and comfortably within one’s daily budget of twenty-four hours is the calm realization of the extreme difficulty of the task, of the sacrifices and the endless effort which it demands.~ Arnold Bennett
You have to live on this twenty-four hours of daily time. Out of it you have to spin health, pleasure, money, content, respect, and the evolution of your immortal soul. Its right use, its most effective use, is a matter of the highest urgency and of the most thrilling actuality. All depends on that. Your happiness—the elusive prize that you are all clutching for, my friends!—depends on that.~ Arnold Bennett
[I]t has been said that time is money. That proverb understates the case. Time is a great deal more than money. If you have time you can obtain money—usually. But though you have the wealth of a cloak-room attendant at the Carlton Hotel, you cannot buy yourself a minute more time than I have, or the cat by the fire has.~ Arnold Bennett
You have to be myopic and completely focused and unbalanced in every way. Once you’ve achieved success, you’re free to do whatever you like.~ Kevin O’Leary
I’ve embraced this slow philosophy for most of my professional career. As with Stearns, I too have become a believer in how much can be accomplished in normal 40-hour weeks; if you’re willing to really work when you’re working, and then be done when you’re done. It’s nice, however, to see someone so much more eminent than me also find success with this fixed-schedule approach.~ Cal Newport from, https://www.calnewport.com/blog/2022/10/21/professio-sano-in-vitam-sanam-on-balancing-work-and-life/
The other day I had a most surreal experience. I was at home. The weather was gorgeous and I spent most of the day on the patio. For about half of the day I did nothing in particular. And I felt—in the moments when I was doing nothing—that that was fine.
I have often experienced this surreality, but always when I have been away. Always, critically, when I had intentionally spent time planning and working to create space to be away. Think of it like getting a running start to coast through the away time; the experience of that surreality had always been while coasting.
“…and then be done when you’re done.” But the other day? I dunno. I did stuff, and then I was done, and that was okay.
You tell me flatly that you are too tired to do anything outside your programme at night. In reply to which I tell you flatly that if your ordinary day’s work is thus exhausting, then the balance of your life is wrong and must be adjusted. A man’s powers ought not to be monopolized by his ordinary day’s work.~ Arnold Bennett
In the end, what matters is your lifestyle. The specifics of your work are important only in how they impact your daily experience. As I summarized, when choosing a career path: “Fix the lifestyle you want. Then work backwards from there.” This idea, which I dubbed lifestyle-centric career planning, subverted popular advice from that period which tended to emphasize the importance of passion and dream jobs. In this widely-accepted schema, the full responsibility for your ongoing satisfaction was offloaded to the minutia of your professional endeavors.~ Cal Newport from, https://www.calnewport.com/blog/2022/08/25/the-most-important-piece-of-career-advice-you-probably-never-heard-2/
Somewhere we each have a box full of specific things. I have a plastic storage tub full of electronic accessories—a spare hard drive, a spare ethernet switch, various cables, an extra mouse, the HDMI cable, and the power adapter for the rest of the world. As a kid, I had a huge styrofoam cooler (it’s a long story) full of Lego bricks and parts. I’m not talking about the proverbial “junk drawer.” I’m talking about a proverbial “box” into which we place specific things. My electronics accessories, my printing supplies, my rock climbing gear, and even all the bookcases considered as one “box.” It’s pretty obvious—I hope?—that since we’re continuously adding things to the boxes, we need to periodically “dump out” the box and cull. The cables that don’t fit anything we currently own… The books we didn’t like or enjoy… Every time I dump out some “box” and toss (or sell or donate etc.) some of the items, my life improves.
This morning I was thinking: When is the last time I dumped out my box of people? …my box of responsibilities? …my box of things I think I should do? …my box of dreams?
The world is this continually unfolding set of possibilities and opportunities, and the tricky thing about life is, on the one hand having the courage to enter into things that are unfamiliar, but also having the wisdom to stop exploring when you’ve found something worth sticking around for. That is true of a place, of a person, of a vocation. Balancing those two things—the courage of exploration and the commitment to staying—and getting the ratio right is very hard.~ Sebastian Junger
Nothing really belongs to us but time, which even he has who has nothing else. It is equally unfortunate to waste your precious life in mechanical tasks or in a profusion of important work.~ Baltasar Gracián
From this experience I learned what legendary writers call ‘killing your darlings’—the plot points and characters that detract from a novel. Sometimes you need to stop doing things you love in order to nurture the one thing that matters most.~ Scott Belsky
[The common refrain is t]hat what you do for work doesn’t define you. That the health, hobbies, and relationships you cultivate outside the office are more important. That you’re a human being, and not a human doing, damnit.
It’s the kind of thing that sounds great in the abstract. Yet, no matter how often we rehearse it cognitively and rhetorically, it never entirely resonates viscerally.~ Brett McKay from, https://www.artofmanliness.com/career-wealth/career/you-are-kind-of-your-job/
I define “work” as: The things I do so that I can trade the results with others. We can all trade in many ways, but a common way to trade is to use money as a way of storing and exchanging value. I don’t think I’m veering off into economics. That definition is critical. There are an enormous number of things which I do that, by that definition are not what I’d consider “work.” How much work one does in terms of hours-spent is going to vary tremendously (and it’s going to vary for countless reasons). There are 168 hours in a 7-day week. If one works 50 hours a week, that’s fully 30% of your total time. Conversely, if one works 5 hours, it’s 3%.
Let’s take it as true that what one does for work matters. That it matters in a real way, which affects your physical and mental health. I do believe that one is able to outgrow this need for meaningful work; I do think one can grow from our inherent nature of a being in need of meaningful doing, to become simply a human being as Mckay (and many others through history) has pointed out.
As one works less, doesn’t it become increasingly important that each moment of work be good work? A couple good hours a week used to make those 50-hours-a-week good. Where’s the “good work” balance for 5-hours-a-week? This inherent need to do work that matters gets stronger as one’s trading-with-others needs diminish. This seems to me, to suggest that the necessity of shifting to the “human simply being” becomes more urgent.
Once we feel like we’re a little good at something, we cling to that. We cling to wanting others to think we know things and are good at things. We cling to the feeling of knowing what we’re doing.~ Leo Babauta from, https://zenhabits.net/destroy/
Balancing continuing to work on what I know, and single mindedly focusing on something new, is the challenge I can never seem to resolve. Destroy all the things I know? …that doesn’t end well. Destroy some of the things I know? …sure, but which ones.
Too often there is a chasm between our ideas and knowledge on the one hand and our actual experience on the other. We absorb trivia and information that take up mental space but get us nowhere. We read books that divert us but have little relevance to our daily lives. We have lofty ideas that we do not put into practice. We also have many rich experiences that we do not analyze enough, that do not inspire us with ideas, whose lessons we ignore. Strategy requires a constant contact between the two realms.~ Robert Greene